6 Ways To Use Your Plastic Containers Safely
After my feature on How Safe Is Your Plastic Container? and revealing the plastic categorization safety codes, we know that no plastic is equal. While some plastics are coded as safe, the question is actually – how safe? No matter the code, one thing is for certain: we should minimize contact of our food and beverages with problematic endocrine disrupting chemicals such as bisphenol-A (BPA) and bisphenol-S (BPS) as much as possible.
Here are 6 ways to get smart with your use of plastics.
1. Never microwave anything in plastic.
Heat and plastics must never go together. This is because chemical leeching gets released at high temperatures. As novel as the use of microwave lids are, they are usually made of plastic. If you have to put any plastic in the microwave, make sure there is a Microwave-Safe label on it. Or, transfer to a glass or ceramic holder before putting it into the microwave. Another warning is saran wrap – the thin, clingy plastic wrap we like to cover our food with. Do not leave the plastic wrap on when you use the microwave. Most people leave it on to avoid food and gravy from splattering. Have you noticed how the saran wrap almost melts into your hot plate of food when you take it out of the microwave? Sometimes you may even see a melted hole. Do you know where the disintegrated plastic chemical fumes have released into? Your food. Instead, replace with wax paper or paper towel. If you have to use plastic wrap for convenience, opt for one that is also labeled Microwave-Safe.
2. Do not put hot-temperature food or beverage in plastic.
Same as point 1. Any contact with high temperature, chemical leeching can occur. Avoid pouring hot boiling water directly into plastic bottles or containers. Instead, pour hot liquid or put hot food on a ceramic plate or in a glass container first. Let it cool down before transferring to your plastic container.
3. Discard any scratched or cracked plastic.
This is a common sight with old used plastic containers. If your plastic is scratched, throw it away immediately. BPA can leak from scratches and cracks. A scratched or cracked plastic will eventually be in unusable condition and tossed away anyway. Don’t wait until it’s too late when it has leeched out all its chemicals.
4. Avoid eating canned foods or drinks.
BPA is used in the linings of canned products. If the product is highly acidic like tomatoes and pineapples, BPA will leech more. Instead, go for the fresh or frozen option.
5. Do not place plastics in the freezer.
Only plastics with a freezer safe label can be put into the freezer. Freezer temperature can cause plastic to deteriorate and crack easily. This increases the leeching of chemicals into the food we when we take out to thaw or reheat.
6. Wash plastics by hand.
Only plastics that have a dishwasher safe label should placed in the dishwasher. In general, plastics exposed to heat and detergent can breakdown and leech chemicals. If your plastic plates, bottles and containers are not made to withstand such treatment, it is best to wash them by hand.
The good news: safe and durable plastic containers is affordable. Some better known brands like Ziploc, Tupperware and Rubbermaid sell safer plastic for every conceivable household use. They are made from high-quality plastics and tend to have a longer shelf life. Always check your plastic household buys, read labels to ensure they are safe and intended for your purpose of use.